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The 'Social Media Policy' Primer

Posted by admin on Sep 17, 2012 10:31:43 AM

Social media policies are now SOP at enterprises around the world - part of nearly every welcome packet for new hires and subject to review on a regular basis. If your company doesn’t have one in place, here are three things to quickly consider:

  1. Even if your company isn’t active on social media, your employees are all over Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. And as you surely know: free speech is a right that many Americans exercise from time-to-time. You don’t control your reputation. Your people and your customers do.
  2. Poor performance? Social media isn’t the problem. One more time: social media isn’t the problem. Bad employees are bad employees. Restricting social media and saying it has no place in a work environment is a) completely ineffective (most of the population owns a smart phone) and b) potentially unproductive. Social media makes communication easier. People can work in transit and from home. So instead: focus on creating an environment where employees respect company time and are driven to get results. You’ll find procrastination won’t be an issue.
  3. You’re about 5 years behind the curve. If you plan on hiring anyone under the age of, let’s say 40, you’re definitely going to need a social media policy. Check out this link to read a few policies and get started.

Now, let’s focus on a few issues that effective social media policies should reflect and - to a large extent - dictate: company culture, PR / marketing and productivity. *There are obvious legal issues at play too but we’ll leave that to the lawyers.

Culture

Dunder Mifflin Don't be Dunder Mifflin.

As with any policy, a social media policy should clearly align with corporate culture. Social media expectations should be clearly defined. If they aren’t defined you are leaving that definition process up to your employee – and if your policy is filled with jargon and phrases like “may result in termination” you are creating a culture based on uncertainty, fear and limitation.

  • Clearly define corporate values
  • Clearly define goals and expectations on various social media platforms. Be explicit and use this as an opportunity to train and educate your people.
  • Give examples and counsel employees on what they should do if they hit a “gray zone”.
  • Most important: empower your employees. Frame the policy in positive language and demonstrate possibility – not danger.

PR / Marketing

Good social media policies will help guide your public-facing PR and marketing machine. Social media is an incredible way to connect with customers and to build brand awareness.

But the grid can get complicated – and fast. Do you have a corporate account? Accounts for each brand? Does your CEO blog, tweet and speak publicly? Do your account managers promote company info on personal-professional hybrid accounts? Are employees, in general, online and talking about company trends / topics? At the enterprise-level, there may 1-2 accounts associated with the company in the social sphere… or there may be hundreds, maybe even thousands!

More profiles help with exposure and organic reach (earned and unpaid), but every profile needs to be accounted for – to some degree.

A large social network is like a brain. Small disruptions can have a significant impact on how the whole body works. So be sure to check systemic health from time-to-time and have tools in place to quickly diagnose and correct misfires.

  • Setup alert and monitoring systems
  • Establish a response matrix and organization chart that supplements your broad social media policy
  • Consider specially trained or “certified” public speakers for your enterprise. Give them more license to speak on the company’s behalf online and put them on the front-lines of the social conversation.

Productivity

As we mentioned in an earlier blog, social media isn’t just about PR / marketing. At Verge Pipe Media, we use social media as a window into our general business practice. Our blogs, tweets, Pinterest boards and Facebook posts offer a glimpse inside the office and onto our team. We run a fairly transparent organization, so this suits us just fine.

One of the by-products of a pervasive “social mindset” is our ability to communicate on the fly. I can send off emails, call clients and connect with business affiliates and the media within a very small window of time. Similar to the ways in which we segment a customer base, we now segment communication – using social media for extremely rapid and convenient “soft” touches.

Obviously, these communications are public. Social media isn’t appropriate for every interaction – and that’s where a good policy comes into play. But the beauty of this open workflow is the “bystander effect”. Your followers will see you doing business, you will attract people that are interested in said business and valuable connections will start coming out of the woodwork.

Verge Pipe Media, Micah WhiteheadAnd, all of this leads back to Culture.

Robust social media dialogue that’s properly aligned with what you’ve set out to do as a company will improve internal and external perceptions of your enterprise (assuming your corporate values aren’t evil).

If you want to change your reputation and get in step with 21st century, you need to start at the top with a good social strategy; but understand: the actual work of affecting change will come at the hands of many.

It has been said time and time again: your people are your greatest asset. Use them. Your managers, employees, their friends + family and, of course, your customers all have something to say, stories to tell and experiences to share. Social media is where those communications are happening.

Get in on the conversation. Adopt an enterprise social media strategy and put policies in place that facilitate the convo.

But don't ignore the most important step: make sure you add value to the conversation! Empower your employees, give them access to helpful resources & social media training and make sure your company’s messaging strategy fits with what people want to read, see, share and hear.

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Author: is Head of Ops & Co-Creative at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.

Topics: social media marketing, Inbound Marketing

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